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November 1998


No. 24

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Three Colleges Share Mellon Grant

by Rachel Beckwith

This summer Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges were joint recipients of a Mellon Foundation grant designed to "....expand the use of instructional technology at the three colleges, encourage greater cooperation among faculty and library and computer staffs, and strengthen library resources." As readers of this newsletter know, the libraries at the three colleges have been working together since the late 1980s, when they established Tripod, the shared library automation system. This collaboration has continued over the years, in part with the assistance of other Mellon grants. Beyond the libraries and foreign language departments, however, the three institutions have been working independently on other areas of instructional technology. This "Mellon 3" grant will foster increased collaboration among faculty and computing staffs at the three colleges, as well as continued collaboration among the library and language center staffs.

The majority of the Mellon 3 grant will go to the computer centers and faculty to fund equipment, staff, and faculty time to work on projects developing instructional technology applications for use in the classroom. Some parts of the grant, however, directly concern the three college's libraries. One of the library initiatives will be the creation of an electronic course reserve system, which will enable staff to put articles on the Web for students to use as course readings. Experiments with this new system will begin this school year, probably using a few specific courses in a pilot project.

The grant will also afford the opportunity for making several improvements to the Tripod database. One of these enhancements is in fact already installed, namely, a function that allows catalog users to mark bibliographic records and then export them to email or to a bibliographic program on their own computers. This enhancement will greatly facilitate the compilation of bibliographies for student and faculty papers. Another new feature will be the addition of tables of contents to Tripod's records for books. Users will be able to view table of contents information for recent English-language monographs (1992-on) in both the Telnet and Web versions of Tripod; this ability will aid catalog browsers in choosing the relevant sources for their work before going to the stacks.

A portion of funds from the Mellon 3 grant will also be directed toward work on the Library's finding aids project. Past newsletters have reported on the program to convert all manuscript collection finding aids to the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard, a format that will allow for electronic searching across all finding aids. Ultimately, the Library's finding aids will be put on a Web site with finding aids from manuscript collections around the country. This ambitious undertaking will benefit greatly from a boost by Mellon funds. One other initiative of the grant that concerns the Library is the prospect of greater resource sharing with the University of Pennsylvania. A number of options are under discussion, but the primary goals are to determine the feasibility of linking Tripod with Penn's catalog and to explore the possibility of extending the tri-college delivery service to include Penn, thus allowing members of all four campus communities to request materials directly from the others.

There are many other projects that the Mellon 3 grant will help fund. Keep an eye on this newsletter for notice of future developments.

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Teaching American History Through Material Culture

by Emma Lapsansky

On September 20, Steven Lubar, chair of the department of the History of Technology at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History and Technology, was the speaker for the third Library Associates program of 1998. A University of Chicago Ph.D., Lubar has been at the Smithsonian since 1982 and has authored dozens of publications on the history of technology and material culture.

Lubar's goal in this talk was to give the audience a bit of the behind-the-scenes story of how material evidence is used at the Smithsonian. Describing several recent/upcoming exhibitions, he suggested that:

  • There is no one "true" historical story. There is always an implicit set of assumptions, and a political climate which shapes interpretation.
  • The historian should be looking to generalize beyond the artifact to the culture which produced, used, collected, or preserved it; each of these actions says something different about the successive cultures in which an artifact plays a role over time.
  • Artifacts are a part of the language of a "culture," defined as the ideas in peoples' heads that shape how they live. Artifacts are physical evidence of those ideas.

Lubar gave a brief history of the founding of the Smithsonian, and asked how many people in the audience had been there. More than 90% raised a hand. Lubar then used this response to point out that the Smithsonian itself is an artifact, an important shrine or symbol to which Americans feel it is important to make a pilgrimage.

After some provocative musing about what constitutes a good museum exhibition and the kinds of changes he and his colleagues are planning for the Museum's permanent displays, Lubar concluded that "an artifact captures a moment in time, change over time, relationships between people, people expressing themselves." The challenge for the artifact's interpreter is to make all this come alive.

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Electronic Journals Added to Library Collections

by Mary Lynn Morris

Journals have increasingly been taking not only their traditional path from mailbox to library, but also an alternative route: from electronic database to desktop. Mirroring the growth of computer use in academia in general, electronic journals, also known as e-journals, first appeared in scientific and technical fields, where they were received enthusiastically by scientists looking for a way to meet their need for immediate access to research. As changes in technology and the marketplace have made computer use less cumbersome for the researcher and more affordable for colleges and universities, e-journals have begun to appear in the social sciences and humanities as well. The last year has seen rapid growth in this area as a relatively small number of e-journal pilot projects, frequently grant-funded and university-sponsored, have been joined by offerings of large e-journal collections from commercial publishers and subscription agents.

The Library has kept up with this trend, as evidenced by the steady growth of its "Scholarly Full Text Journals" page, which first appeared last year on the Library website. This list of links to journals to which the Library subscribes consisted initially of journals published by the Johns Hopkins University Press or archived by the JSTOR project, but soon grew to include additional journals in physics, biology, and chemistry. Late this summer, the Library concluded arrangements with an e-journal service called "Electronic Collections Online" to make available another 40 journals from several publishers, including such Academic Press and Blackwell titles as Journal of Molecular Biology, Religion, European Journal of Philosophy, and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, as well as titles from MIT Press, Kluwer, and the Royal Society of Chemistry. A separate license with the American Chemical Society offers access to its journals. In the cases of ACS and Academic Press, the Library's subscription includes access to all the journals they publish. As of this writing, the Library subscribes to some 350 e-journals.

In addition to using the "Scholarly Full Text Journals" page to access these journals, recent improvements to the Web version of Tripod, the Library's online catalog, have enabled the Library to include a direct link from Tripod bibliographic records to the text of each electronic journal. Library patrons can simply perform a journal title search, choose the journal title with the qualifier "(Online)" after it, and then click on the "Connect To" link to be taken directly to the journal's website.

These new e-journals offer a number of advantages over their print counterparts. The most obvious is immediate access upon publication. The time lag from publication to availability is eliminated completely. In addition, online journals provide round-the-clock, campus-wide access in offices, dorm rooms, and computer clusters. Researchers are no longer restricted by the Library's physical location or hours of operation. Online journals may also include such extra features as hypertext links to referenced articles and related information as well as searchable full-text archives of back issues. In the near future, users will be able to link directly from citations in online indexes to articles appearing in the e-journals to which the Library subscribes. As the size of the Library's e-journal collection increases, this direct linking ability will reduce the amount of time--often to only a minute or two--that it takes for students and faculty to have a desired article in hand once they have found a reference to it.

As with any new application of computer technology, e-journals bring not only advantages but challenges as well. Library patrons may need to load additional software onto their computers in order to view and print some articles, and some older model computers may be too slow or have insufficient memory to run these applications. Libraries also must adapt purchasing, cataloging, processing, and archiving procedures, originally developed to deal with physical items that arrive through the mail, to this new type of journal, which has no permanent physical form and "arrives" at the Library through network cables.

With these issues in mind, the Library plans to phase in e-journals by starting its collection with journals already received in print, and then maintaining subscriptions in both formats until all campus users have the proper equipment and software for using e-journals. Over the next few years, the Library will move in concert with Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore to offer electronic rather than physical access to as many journals as possible in order to offer 24-hour desktop service.

E-Journals at Haverford

Use the "Open Location" feature of Netscape and enter the Web address to access these locations:

List of Scholarly Full-Text Journals:

American Chemical Society:

IDEAL from Academic Press:

Electronic Collections Online:

Project MUSE (Johns Hopkins University Press journals):

JSTOR (back issues of scholarly journals):


Please note: Access is restricted by license to authorized users of Haverford's campus network only. Others will not be able to access the journals from off campus.

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Staff Announcements

Since the Library last reported on appointments in the spring of 1997, two new staff members have joined us. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome them in print.

Alice Pakhtigian began as Science Library Assistant in June 1998. She has a B.A. in psychology from Beaver College and has worked in school, public, and academic libraries in a variety of positions, including an internship with the state's Department of Environmental Protection, where she created a library for the Southeast Region. She recently completed her M.S. in Library and Information Science at Drexel University. Alice is in charge of the daily operation of the Sharpless Biology Library and helps the Science Librarian with the Stokes and Observatory libraries.

John Shank joined the library staff as Technical Services Assistant in April 1998 and helps to catalog and prepare materials for the Library's collections. John is a 1995 graduate of Earlham College, where he majored in Political Science. He has worked as Periodical Assistant at Montgomery County Community College and is currently enrolled in the Library and Information Science master's program at Drexel University.

Kudos to Ann Upton, Special Collections Assistant, who completed her Master of Library and Information Science degree at Drexel University in June 1997, and to Rachel Beckwith, Executive Library Assistant, who completed her M.A. in art history at Bryn Mawr College in May 1998. Rachel also has joined the ranks of library staff enrolled in Drexel's Library and Information Science master's degree program.

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A Star is Born

A piece of decommissioned Library equipment recently, and quite by chance, made its debut in a starring role with the Philadelphia Orchestra. An old, built-like-a-tank Olympia typewriter bought at a Library booksale was passed along as an educational toy for staff member Martha Payne's children to use when visiting their father, Larry Passmore, who works for the Orchestra. In preparation for last spring's April Fool's Day concert, the Orchestra's percussion section was auditioning for a typewriter to be the titular solo instrument in Leroy Anderson' famous novelty piece "The Typewriter" (1950).

The old Library Olympia won over several other instruments and was played in the performance by Michael Bookspan, Principal Percussionist. What with opening night jitters and all, some keys did get stuck near the beginning of the piece, but Bookspan's practiced touch untangled them and all proceeded smoothly.

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Five Years of Bindery Interns

By Bruce Bumbarger

Magill Library is unusual among small college's libraries in having an in-house bindery to handle most of its binding and book conservation needs. The work undertaken ranges from simple pamphlet binding to the full conservation treatment of rare materials. The facility is staffed by a trained binder/book conservator, one part-time permanent assistant, and three to five student assistants. In addition, for the past five summers, the Library has hosted an intern from the bookbinding/conservation program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston.

Founded in 1885 as a settlement house for immigrants living in the city's North End, North Bennet operated as a combined trade school and community center until the early 1980's. It earned accreditation from the National Association of Trade and Technical Schools in 1982 for courses in various branches of woodworking, furniture making, and locksmithing. Since then, its aim has been to expand its curricula by offering instruction in various crafts whose skills have traditionally been mastered through the declining practice of apprenticeship. In the early 1980s, courses in violin making and piano tuning/ reconstruction were added. In 1986, guided by a panel of university conservators and commercial binders from the area, the school established a two-year course of study in bookbinding and conservation. Aside from an M.L.S. degree program at Columbia University, there were at that point no organized study opportunities in the U.S. for individuals interested in entering the field. Although a handful of M.F.A. programs now offer book arts concentrations, North Bennet's course remains the only program aimed at providing intensive, bench-oriented, practical instruction in bookbinding and conservation.

In establishing the internship, the Library hoped to achieve two goals. First, we wanted to supplement the bindery workforce with more highly skilled individuals without adding to the regular staff. Second, Librarian Michael Freeman stressed that we should see it as an opportunity to perform a service for the library profession by advancing the cause of materials preservation. We therefore planned to hire interns who had completed their first year of study and wanted to practice what they had learned by working in a library setting.

Interns are chosen through interviews conducted at the School by the Library's conservator Bruce Bumbarger. During the interview, Bruce reviews students' portfolios and talks to them about their work, interests, and background; the program's instructor advises Bruce on candidates' abilities and how each might benefit from the internship opportunity.

With generous support from Gerald Levy, father of Rachel '96 and Benjamin'93 Levy, and Aaron Tandy '88, the internship pays housing and wages and

runs for eight weeks, during which time the student works with Bruce on a variety of library materials. Before they arrive, the student, their teacher, and Bruce confer about what types of work they most need to practice. Bruce then tries to choose projects that will provide them with experience in those areas, while meeting the production needs of the Library. Work can range from straightforward repair and recasing of items from the circulating collection to fairly complex treatments of rare materials.

The summers follow a general pattern. The first couple of weeks are spent performing routine procedures as Bruce develops a better sense of the student's abilities. Then the student works on several more complicated treatments. One summer, the student was interested in nineteenth-century cloth bindings, so Bruce and he explored techniques for restoration of those items. Another intern wanted to gain experience working with paper cleaning and repair, so she worked on several seventeenth-century books from the Library's special collections.

Who are our interns? Three have been women and two men; they've generally been in their mid-twenties, and most have had some previous experience working in libraries. The first intern, Martha Kearsley, enjoyed something of a homecoming during her stay; a 1985 graduate of the College, she had never worked in the bindery but did remember several of the long-time members of the Library staff. Intern number four, Sonja Reid, is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, and even spent some time in the bindery during the program's first summer. As a student, she had been interested in working in the bindery, but had never secured a position. Returning after graduation, she spent several months working as a part-time volunteer and, at Martha Kearsley's urging, applied for and was accepted to the North Bennet program. Completing the circle, this past summer's visitor, Vasaré Rastonis, met Martha in the conservation lab of the Northwestern University Library, where Vasaré was an art history student employed in the Library and Martha a book conservator. Vasaré had plans to pursue a career in art conservation, but in talking with Martha decided to apply to North Bennet Street.

Where have they all ended up? Martha, after a stint working on the conservation of a large collection of architectural drawings at Harvard University, accepted the Northwestern University position in the spring of 1996. She recently left there to work as an archivist in the photo collection of Playboy magazine, has her own binding studio, and hopes to return to binding on a full-time basis in a year or two. Jake Benson, intern number two, left Haverford for a six-month internship at the Library of Congress, and since then has worked as a book conservator at the Etherington Conservation Center, a commercial conservation business located in Brown Summit, NC. He also continues to pursue his interest in paper marbling and regularly presents workshops on the subject. John O'Regan, here the third summer, worked for one year with Jake at the Etherington Center, and has since returned to Boston to work for Harvard University Library in the Collections Conservation Department. Sonja Reid is employed as a conservator by the Countway Medical Library at Harvard University Medical School. Vasaré has returned to Boston to complete her studies at North Bennet Street, where we hope she is building enthusiasm for our program among the first-year students.

All parties benefit from the program, the students in terms of experience, and the Library in terms of work accomplished. To Bruce Bumbarger, the internship offers the opportunity to observe new techniques and approaches to teaching during his visits to the School, and to share his skills with someone who brings a fresh perspective to the bindery each summer. We look forward to many more summers as fulfilling as the past five have been.

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Questions or Comments?